A Flexible Development System for Automated Aircraft Assembly 961878
McDonnell Douglas Aircraft in St. Louis, MO manufacturers various transport and fighter military aircraft such as the C-17 and the F/A-18. With shrinking military budgets and increased competition, market forces demand high quality parts at lower cost and shorter lead times. Currently, a large number of different fastener types which include both solid rivets and interference bolts are used to fasten these assemblies. The majority of these fasteners are installed by hand or by using manually operated C-Frame riveters. MDA engineers recognized that in order to reach their goals they would be required to rethink all phases of the assembly system, which includes fastener selection, part fixturing and fastener installation methods.
Phase 1 of this program is to identify and to develop fastener installation processes which will provide the required flexibility. The EMR fastening process provides this flexibility. While EMR is currently used in production on a number of aircraft programs around the world, it has only been qualified for limited use within MDA. In conjunction with MDA engineers, Electroimpact designed and built an automated EMR development system. The test bench system has complete automated riveting and Lockbolt insertion capability. The test bench platform provides the means to optimize, validate and prequalify the fastener installation process prior to delivery of the full production system. After production implementation, the test bench can be utilized for the development of new processes or for investigating production problems off-line.